Ben Ainsley Interview: GB Sailing Legend Discusses Mo Farah and London 2012 Legacy


enslie sits on the roof of London’s Sea Containers building, an agricultural name that undercuts what is these days a very attractive hotel and restaurant on the south bank of the Thames.

It’s the morning before a BBC documentary titled ‘The Real Mo Farah’ airs, and the conversation quickly turns to the remarkable revelation that the great distance runner has another boy’s name. was trafficked to Britain as a child.

“I know Mo well, our paths have crossed a lot with the Olympics,” Ainslie explains. Standard game. “Understanding more of his background and what he went through, you just have to take your hat off and admire his determination to get through it.

“To achieve what he has in sport and in life is very impressive. He has had to fight all his adult life and now, thankfully, he can talk openly about it.

A speedboat driven by David Beckham passed here on its way up the river to Stratford, carrying the Olympic torch to the embankment where it will remain lit during the 2012 Games as the likes of Farah and Ainslie inspire the nation. It was messed up. .

“That made Britain proud, didn’t it?” said Ainslie, whose success was one of 29 gold medals for Team GB that felt, amid a summer of nostalgia this week, a fast away from victory and perceived unity.

“We’re a very proud nation. We’re going through a rough patch right now,” he admitted, “but we’ll be back and sport is a big part of that. It’s a big part of our national identity. Is.”

As, historically, sailing has been and this weekend the nation’s most successful yachtsman, at least in a sporting context, will return to British waters to compete for the first time in six years. In which he will lead the British SailGP team in which he is also a shareholder. The home leg of the sport’s elite racing circuit.

Plymouth Sound is the location which means that in terms of water knowledge, Ainslie can claim as much home advantage as a middleweight boxer fighting a kangaroo on the moon.

Bob Martin for Cell GP

“The only time I traveled to Plymouth, I was about 15,” Ainslie says. “I did a youth training camp there and haven’t traveled there since. Last year there was a Sail GP race so if anything the other teams probably have more experience.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t extra motivation.

“We are a very proud maritime nation, aren’t we?” He laughs. “Whenever we’re competing on the water we want to be ‘Britannia Rules the Waves’ and all that stuff!

Ainslie has had to hold back some of his trademark racing aggression this season as the Brit has adopted a slightly more conservative approach, not a natural transition for a man who once famously rode the Incredible Hulk to Jonahs Hogg Christensen’s Olympic gold. was chosen to win from “pissed off” him earlier in the contest.

“After 20 years of competition and being quite aggressive, it took a while to suddenly pull back,” he admits.

“But at the same time you can’t afford to lose that intensity in any game, you have to push to win. It’s just evaluating the risk and reward and trying to get on the right side of that line. Is.

After 20 years of competing and being quite aggressive, it took a while to suddenly back off.

That’s been the case so far, too good for the new approach, with Great Britain, which missed out on qualifying for the three-team, $1 million final at the end of last season, currently third in this year’s standings. is at No. 1, level on points with Canada above them.

Others have followed a similar path: despite the addition of two new teams this term, there hasn’t been a single crash in the first two meetings.

“I know I know!” Ainslie says, when asked if the lack of homicides risks taking away from the circuit’s high-octane appeal. “You look at other sports like F1 and people love the risk.

“There’s a safety factor and there’s a cost factor and that’s why we’re pushing so hard to keep the boats apart but it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen. There’s going to be collisions when you’ve got ten boats on such a tight course. But we will run at the speed we are at.”

Felix Demer for Cell GP

The pursuit of success is one of the factors that has tarnished the legacy of the London Games, particularly allegations that the obsession with ‘cash for medals’ fueled the various abuse scandals that emerged at the Olympic Games. has played an important role in facilitating since, most recently with his damaging Whyte Review in Gymnastics.

“It’s interesting,” Ainslie says, reflecting on that mixed legacy. “I think first of all, we’ve seen the power of sport, through the Olympics, London 2012, and the success at the Olympics, which can be motivating.

“Getting young people involved in sport, in particular, and being active – we know the benefits that can bring to society. But should funding be at the forefront of that and should it be everything in sport? Is overweight? Absolutely not, it shouldn’t be.”